Category: CIS News

Research Spotlight: Dr. A.J. Bauer

United States history is home to a diverse and ever-shifting spectrum of political ideas. As political parties rise and fall, and power narrowly swings from one majority opinion to the other, we seek understanding for how and why these things occur. By engaging with past newspapers, speeches, television reels and other historical archives, scholars are able to examine how different ideologies emerged, how influential political figures gained momentum and what key moments marked their ascension to (or fall from) political power.

Dr. A. J. Bauer is an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism and Creative media. As a faculty researcher, Bauer studies the modern conservative movement by examining conservative news, right-wing media, political communication and American studies. According to Bauer, many historians see the conservative movement as several distinct ideologies that fused together after the Second World War. Different political ideals would rise and fall within this movement for decades, but one issue sticks out as a common denominator—a criticism of national media.

“A lot of times scholars will focus on a particular idea as being the basis of the conservatism: opposition to Roe vs. Wade, the support of gun rights or the support of various interventions overseas to spread democracy,” said Bauer. “My research points to the fact that from the very beginning, the key issue uniting all these ideals was a critique of the media.”

To Bauer, a key undercurrent that helps bind together various conservative political efforts is a distrust of and experienced opposition to the mainstream media. This opposition unites voters and activists from various causes—even causes that seem to contradict one another—because they are able to co-identify as part of the same resistance to a common perceived enemy, the press.

Much of Bauer’s research is ethnographic, meaning that he examines right-wing and conservative media from the perspective of the movement itself. This involves him consuming and analyzing large amounts of conservative media on the air, at annual gatherings such as the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and interviewing conservative journalists as a basis for his research. And, because understanding the historical context of conservatism is vital to understanding the contemporary conservative movement (and vice versa), the other major component to Bauer’s research is historical—examining archives, ranging from those of conservative journalists like Fulton Lewis, Jr. to the records of the Federal Communications Commission.

“I toggle back and forth between my historical work and contemporary work, always trying to keep one foot in the contemporary because it’s so rapidly evolving,” said Bauer. “We have hindsight so we can look at seemingly obscure figures who no one cared about and map through history how their ideas gained steam and turned into something really big later on.”

Regardless of the cultural moment, Bauer’s research casts light on and brings greater understanding of a continually developing cultural perspective and its media. But it’s easy to see how the news cycle from the past several years makes his research all that more relevant and vital to understanding conservative news.

“I read conservative news all the time, and I learn things from it even though it is biased in a particular way. You can have reading strategies that overcome the question of bias,” said Bauer. “But the question is, ‘What are the values we use to assess partisan media on the right, on the left—both?’ How do we create a way of talking about it that isn’t just reduceable to bias?”

Bauer believes the key is nurturing an active and critical reading strategy, because the argument that media is biased assumes that people consume their media uncritically. He says readers who expect the news to be the arbiter of unquestionable and certain truth at all times are expecting it to do something its incapable of doing. Instead, the answer is to create a more politically aware culture by engaging openly in thoughtful conversations—even with people we don’t know.

“The idea that politics is a touchy subject we can’t talk about reinforces the notion of echo chambers and the siloing off that happens,” said Bauer. “By expecting the media to do something that fixes the problem, we overlook the fact that the only solution to the problem is more actual engagement between citizens, even citizens who disagree with one another.”

The College of Communication and Information Sciences’ faculty and students at The University of Alabama conduct cutting-edge research that creates knowledge and provides solutions to global issues across the full communication and information spectrum. To learn more about the College’s research initiatives, visit

AFC Students Win Three Speech National Championships

Only two weeks after winning team national championships in speech and debate, student members of the Alabama Forensic Council (AFC) won three individual national championships at their most recent tournament, the American Forensics Association National Speech Tournament.

Emma Capitanelli won a national championship in informative speaking and was named to the All-American team. Anna Kutbay won a national championship in communication analysis and was named the overall individual sweepstakes national champion.

AFC brought home nearly 30 awards from this tournament. The awards are listed below:

All-American Team

Emma Capitanelli

After Dinner Speaking

Emma Capitanelli – 3rd Place

Anna Kutbay – Semifinalist

Cassidy Duncan – Quarterfinalist


Communication Analysis

Anna Kutbay – National Champion


Dramatic Interpretation

Cortland Stone – 3rd Place


Duo Interpretation

Cassidy Duncan & Sophie Akhtar – Semifinalists

Cortland Stone & Elizabeth Tagg – Quarterfinalists


Extemporaneous Speaking

Anna Kutbay – 2nd Place

Sandhu Aladuwaka – Quarterfinalist

Emma Capitanelli – Quarterfinalist


Impromptu Speaking

Anna Kutbay – 2nd Place

Sandhu Aladuwaka – Quarterfinalist


Informative Speaking

Emma Capitanelli – National Champion

Anna Kutbay – 3rd Place

Cassidy Duncan – Quarterfinalist

Persuasive Speaking

Anna Kutbay – 2nd Place

Emma Capitanelli – 6th Place

Sophie Akhtar – Quarterfinalist

Jessica Styres – Semifinalist


Poetry Interpretation

Cassidy Duncan – Quarterfinalist


Prose Interpretation

Cortland Stone – Semifinalist

Elizabeth Tagg – Quarterfinalist


Individual Sweepstakes

Anna Kutbay – National Champion

Emma Capitanelli – 5th Place

Cortland Stone – 14th Place

Cassidy Duncan – 20th Place


Team Sweepstakes

Alabama Forensic Council – 4th Place


The Alabama Forensic Council is The University of Alabama’s competitive speech team. As the oldest co-curricular organization on campus, the program aims to respect and build upon the successes of alumni and forge a path for current and future students. AFC provides students with skills and resources to engage in intellectual discovery, enable professional development, strengthen and utilize their unique voices, construct compelling messages, engage in interpersonal and rhetorical exploration, and foster community through advocacy and argumentation.


C&IS Honors Day 2020-21


C&IS Honors Day

Honors Day is a time-honored tradition on The University of Alabama campus and within the College of Communication and Information Sciences. As the academic year comes to an end, we are pleased to honor each of these outstanding award recipients. The achievements and successes of our alumni and friends inspire us all to strive for the extraordinary in everything we do.

Bert Bank Distinguished Service and Achievement Award – Stephen Boyd

Stephen E. Boyd is a senior government official who has served as an Assistant Attorney General of the United States, as well as a Chief of Staff in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. During his 16 years of public service in the nation’s capital, Boyd has navigated Washington’s legal, political and media circles to effectively advocate for policies that promote American security and prosperity.

Boyd currently serves as Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Tuberville, a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. Boyd manages the Senator’s staff and serves as his top advisor. His areas of interest include national security, intelligence and space policy.

Boyd previously served as a Presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice, acting as the law enforcement agency’s top liaison to Congress. At the Department, Boyd advocated for a legislative agenda to fight transnational criminal organizations, violent gun crimes, drug trafficking, human exploitation, and foreign intelligence operations. Working closely with the leaders of the FBI, ATF and DEA, Boyd was the point man for responding to a number of sensitive Congressional oversight investigations.

Boyd, a native of Vestavia Hills, earned a B.A. from the College of Communication & Information Sciences at The University of Alabama and a J.D. from the School of Law. Boyd lives in Washington with his wife, Brecke.


Betsy Plank Distinguished Achievement Award – Ward Simmons

Ward Simmons is the current Vice President of Baccarat North America, a manufacturer of fine crystal. Known for his ability to make the connection, Ward has modernized the Baccarat brand with unique collaborations with Lexus, Woodford Reserve, Supreme, The YouTube Awards, designer Virgil Abloh, the Rolling Stones, The Kentucky Derby and most recently, Martha Stewart.

Prior to joining Baccarat, Simmons served as Vice President of Marketing, Public Relations, Advertising and Visual for HUGO BOSS, The Americas. During his seven years at HUGO BOSS, Ward restructured the entire Marketing and Visual Departments to fit the needs of the business. With offices in New York, Toronto, Mexico City and Sao Paulo, he spoke and created strategies in four languages and grew the annual sales from $250 million to $1 billion.

Simmons began his career at 19 with Ralph Lauren. By age 30, he was responsible for 217 Ralph Lauren employees, 17 direct reports and $46 million in sales in the highest profile store in the world.

Simmons holds bachelor’s degree from The University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences. He is also the recipient of the Humanitarian Award from amfAR, Event Chairman for Broadway in South Africa, Board Member of Athlete Ally, Member of First Presbyterian Church, A Farmer in Kentucky as a side job, and was a Sigma Chi at The University of Alabama in his five years at the Capstone.


Outstanding Alumni Awards

Outstanding Alumna, Advertising – Shelly Hiatt-Saboorian

Shelly Hiatt-Saboorian is the Vice President and Account Director of 22squared, an employee-owned creative company based in Atlanta, Georgia. She prides herself on establishing strong client relationships at the beginning of any project, and she is driven by strategic vision, analytical thinking and a strong desire to help brands inspire positive change in the world.

From national retail to local nonprofits, Hiatt-Saboorian has had the opportunity to work with some of the nation’s best agencies and strongest brands, including accounts for AT&T Wireless, Shoe Carnival, SunTrust and Shark/Ninja.

Hiatt-Saboorian is a 2007 graduate of The University of Alabama, where she was president of the UA Advertising Federation, an Account Director and Speaker in the Ad Team Student Competition. She is driven by her huge passion for the creative process, ideas that make our planet a better place, traveling, learning how to be a new working mom to a precious baby girl and making the most of every opportunity.


Outstanding Alumna, Book Arts – Cathleen A. Baker, Ph.D.

Dr. Cathleen A. Baker is an author and professor as well as the founder and operator of The Legacy Press, a commercial printing press which focuses on new research in the history and technologies of the printing, papermaking, and bookbinding arts. Since 2007, The Legacy Press has published 27 titles and has another 15 books in the works.

Baker received her bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of Michigan in 1967, master’s degrees in art history and book arts from Syracuse University in 1985, her MFA in book arts at The University of Alabama in 1997 and her Ph.D. in mass communication from The University of Alabama in 2004.

Baker is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the American Institute for Conservation’s (AIC) Excellence in Conservation Publication award (2012), the AIC Caroline and Sheldon Keck Award for Excellence in Conservation Teaching award (2012), the Guild of Book Workers Lifetime Achievement Award (2018) and induction into the Hall of Papermaking Champions by members of the Hand Papermakers of North America (2020). Baker retired in 2016 but still runs The Legacy Press in her home of Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Outstanding Alumnus, Communication Studies – Carlisle Campbell

Carlisle Campbell is Vice President of Corporate Communications at Capital One, where he focuses on building out influencer engagement strategies that build strategic partnerships for product launches and at the enterprise level. Additionally, he strives to elevate the ability of his team to think like analysts and translate PR results into qualitative metrics that demonstrate valuable business impact.

He has extensive experience developing and leading strategic communication programs designed to create brand awareness, drive consumer engagement and impact business goals. Before joining Capital One, Campbell spent a decade at Ketchum Public Relations where he led teams supporting brands including The Clorox Company, The Hershey Company, and DoubleTree by Hilton.

Campbell received his bachelor’s degree in communication studies from The University of Alabama in 2002 and his Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland in 2011. He and his wife, Katie, live in Alexandria, Virginia with their three children.


Outstanding Alumnus, Creative Media – Daniel Barnes

Daniel Barnes is a Development Executive in Los Angeles, California at Cloudco Entertainment, an entertainment studio with a wide range of properties including Care Bears, Madballs and Holly Hobbie. Born and raised in Huntsville, Alabama, he graduated from The University of Alabama in 2014 with a degree in Telecommunication and Film with a concentration In Media Production. During his senior year, he was selected as the Children’s Development and Programming Intern for the highly competitive and prestigious Television Academy Foundation Internship Program which launched his career in Children’s and Family entertainment.

Barnes has worked on some of the biggest children’s entertainment brands, including My Little Pony, Transformers, Dino Dana, Blippi, Cocomelon and the Care Bears while working at major studios such as Hasbro Studios, Amazon Studios and Moonbug Entertainment.


Outstanding Alumnus, Library and Information Studies – James L. Baggett

Jim Baggett has worked for more than 20 years as Head of the Birmingham Public Library Archives and Archivist for the City of Birmingham. He has served as president of the Society of Alabama Archivists, Chair of the Jefferson County Historical Commission, and on numerous boards. Jim has lectured and presented conference papers throughout the U.S. and in Europe and has been featured on Alabama Public Television, Alabama Public Radio, National Public Radio, and CSPAN. He is a 1997 graduate of The University of Alabama.

As an archival librarian, he has mentored future librarians and archivists and directed more than 50 internships. He has authored or edited five books on Birmingham and Alabama history and has written articles on archival preservation and Alabama history for various Alabama publications. He currently writes a regular book review column for the online news site

Jim met his wife, Marci in library school. Their daughter, Jane Ann is now a freshman in the College of Communication and Information Sciences at The University of Alabama. They live in Birmingham and Mentone, Alabama.


Outstanding Alumna, News Media – Dr. Tonjanita Johnson

Dr. Tonjanita Johnson serves as Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs for The University of Alabama System (UAS) and is the primary system liaison to academic, student, institutional research and planning, and diversity and inclusion officials at UA, UAB and UAH.

Prior to joining the UAS leadership team, Johnson served as executive vice president and chief operating officer for the University of Tennessee System, based in Knoxville where she had executive oversight of several system-level offices and processes. Johnson is twice a graduate of The University of Alabama, earning her bachelor’s in mass communication 1991 and her master’s degree in mass communication in 1996.

A proud native of Butler, Alabama, Johnson and her husband, Tony, live in Tuscaloosa and have a daughter, T’Anna Gabrielle, who is a sophomore at The American University of Paris in France.


Outstanding Alumna, Public Relations – Katie McMinn Campbell

Katie McMinn Campbell is the legislative director for United States Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona, where she leads in developing Kelly’s policy positions and legislative initiatives. Prior to working with Senator Kelly, she served as the deputy legislative director for Senator Doug Jones of Alabama.

Campbell has spent most of her career helping to shape public policy through her work for various political organizations and both the United States Senate and House of Representatives. A native of Montevallo, Alabama, Campbell received her bachelor’s degree in public relations from The University of Alabama in 2004 and her master’s in public policy from Georgetown University in 2006.

She and her husband, Carlisle, live in Alexandria, Virginia with their three children.


C&IS Graduate Named Hearst Multimedia Narrative Storytelling Competition Winner

C&IS alumna, Barbara Dias Carneiro

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in March 2020, many UA students traveled home for the remainder of the semester. For Fall 2020 journalism graduate Barbara Dias Carneiro, the journey home from Tuscaloosa was anything but ordinary.

Dias Carneiro is originally from Sao Palo, Brazil, and moved to Tuscaloosa to pursue a degree in journalism. Being one of few students left on campus in March, she decided to travel home and finish her degree virtually. She drove 8 hours to the only airport in the United States with a flight to Brazil at the time.

“Through the rush of packing and leaving without saying goodbye, I was nervous and skeptical of traveling during such an unpredictable time and didn’t truly process my emotions until I was back home in Brazil,” Dias Carneiro said.

As she faced a unique journey back home, Dias Carneiro took the opportunity to capture her experience for a project in her Capstone journalism course. She videoed the journey from packing her bags, traveling to the airport and boarding a plane to go home to Brazil.

“While being assigned one last project, I found myself having a duty to talk about the (then) recently emerging pandemic, while also shifting out my future plans and moving out of a country I called home for five years,” Dias Carneiro said.  “Back in March of 2020, the pandemic was still this abstract concept we didn’t know much about, so I thought it would be interesting to show it through my personal experience during my journey home.”

She submitted the video to the Hearst Multimedia Narrative Storytelling Competition and placed in the top 20 of the competition this year. She credits her professors in C&IS for nominating her and motivating her to enter the competition.

“I think it’s a sweet gesture when your professors see the quality in your work,” she said. “I love working in this area so I’m very glad that my professor did this for me.”

Aside from her experience with multimedia journalism, Dias Carneiro found many ways to get involved on campus at UA and within C&IS. She was the vice-president of the Hispanic-Latino Association, secretary of the UA chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and taught Portuguese for three years.

Since graduating from C&IS, Dias Carneiro accepted a virtual position with the web-development company Faraday Academy. She is also applying for master’s degree programs and plans to move to Germany in September to pursue a master’s degree in international law.

The Hearst Journalism Awards Program was founded in 1960 to provide support, encouragement and assistance to journalism education at the college and university level. The program awards scholarships to students for outstanding performance in college-level journalism.

AFC Wins National Championships in Speech and Debate Tournament

Members of the Alabama Forensic Council Team

The Alabama Forensic Council (AFC) won two national championships in speech and debate at the Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament last weekend. The team won both the Team National Championship for individual events in speech and the Overall Team National Championship which included elements of both speech and debate.

C&IS students Cassidy Duncan, Cortland Stone and Elizabeth Tagg won first place in the Informative Speaking, Dramatic Interpretation and Prose categories respectively. Stone and Tagg also received first place in the Duo Interpretation category.

Since this year’s tournament was held virtually, students were tasked with completing their events online. According to Dr. Benjamin Pyle, director of AFC, the students adapted to the new competition style with ease.

“Our students dove head-first into figuring out how best to make this new competition format work for them to win the national tournaments,” Pyle said. “The Team Championship at the Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament was the first of our three main competitive goals this season. Words cannot contain the amount of pride I hold in my heart for each of my students, graduate assistant coaches, volunteers, alumni and fellow administrators who have fought hard to reach this achievement.”

Additionally, 15 UA students placed in individual events at the tournament. The awards are listed below.

Poetry Interpretation

3rd Place: Cassidy Duncan


Program Oral Interpretation (POI)

3rd place: Elizabeth Tagg

Semifinalist: Casey Buisson

Quarterfinalist: Joslyn Drake


National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA)

Octafinalists: Isaac Sherman and David Zell


Individual Sweeps

2nd place: Cortland Stone

9th place: Isaac Sherman


After Dinner Speaking

6th place: Cassidy Duncan

Semifinalists: Cortland Stone, Anna Kutbay and Sandhu Aladuwaka

Quarterfinalist: Casey Buisson


Communication Analysis

2nd place: Isaac Sherman

Semifinalists: Anna Kutbay and Gentry Slay


Dramatic Interpretation

Champion: Cortland Stone


Extemporaneous Speaking

Semifinalist: Andrew Schmidt

Quarterfinalists: Sandhu Aladuwaka, Anna Kutbay and Isaac Sherman

Top 30%: Gentry Slay


Informative Speaking

3rd place: Sophie Akhtar

Quarterfinalists: Anna Kutbay, Tionna Tate and Isaac Sherman

Top 30%: Garrett Reynolds



Champion: Elizabeth Tagg

Semifinalist: Casey Buisson

Quarterfinalists: Cortland Stone, Grace McKelvey and Cassidy Duncan


Duo Interpretation

Champions: Elizabeth Tagg and Cortland Stone

2nd place: Sophie Akhtar and Cassidy Duncan

Semifinalists: Grace McKelvey and Casey Buisson



2nd place: Gentry Slay

3rd place: Anna Kutbay

4th place: Sandhu Aladuwaka

Semifinalists: Isaac Sherman



2nd place: Anna Kutbay

4th place: Cassidy Duncan

6th place: Tionna Tate

Semifinalist: Sophie Akhtar

Quarterfinalists: Garret Reynolds and Cortland Stone


The Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament took place Thursday, March 18 through Sunday, March 21. It is the first of three national tournaments the AFC team will compete in this semester.

The Alabama Forensic Council is The University of Alabama’s competitive speech team. As the oldest co-curricular organization on campus, the program aims to respect and build upon the successes of alumni and forge a path for our current and future students. AFC provides students with skills and resources to engage in intellectual discovery, enable professional development, strengthen and utilize their unique voices, construct compelling messages, engage in interpersonal and rhetorical exploration, and foster community through advocacy and argumentation.





A Career Behind the Camera: James Kerry

C&IS alumnus James Kerry working on the set of the TV show “The Office”

For James Kerry (Telecommunication and Film ’02), working in the production industry was something he had dreamed of from an early age. Inspired by classic movies such as Star Wars and The Terminator, he knew that production work was exactly what he wanted to do but was not certain how he would make his way to working on the big screen.

As a young boy from Alabama, Kerry was convinced that his dream job wasn’t attainable and, after contemplating alternative enjoyable career paths, he decided to pursue a degree in graphic design. Not long after he began working on his degree, his mother passed away unexpectedly. This marked a turning point for Kerry, and he decided to turn tragedy into a life-altering transition.

“I decided that life is too short,” Kerry said. “I knew I had to be a director or producer in film and television.” With this renewed mindset and outlook on life, he set out to do just that.

He left his graphic design degree program and immediately enrolled in the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) to earn a degree in telecommunication and film. It was during his senior year in C&IS that he was introduced to well-known producer Tom Cherones.

Cherones invited Kerry and four other students to Los Angeles prior to graduation and introduced them to various producers, helping them form some initial connections in the industry.

“[Tom Cherones] introduced us to two producers. He introduced us to Tim Kaiser, who was one of the producers of ‘Will and Grace’ and ‘Good Morning Miami’ at the time. He also connected me to Kent Zbornak, who was one of the producers of ‘Golden Girls,’” he said.

Although he didn’t realize it at the time, that trip would launch his future career. Less than six months after graduating, Kerry moved to Los Angeles and was reconnected with Zbornak. He was offered a job as a production assistant and the production career he had always dreamed of began to take off.

Kerry first started his career working alongside Zbornak on the set of the hit television show “The Office.” He spent seven years on set for the show and worked his way up to serving as co-producer, and eventually producer, for later seasons of the sitcom. In addition, he also worked on the set of numerous other shows including “Anger Management,” “Casual,” and various pilots.

Along with his work on notable television programs, Kerry has also had the opportunity to be a part of various film projects. His work on movies such as “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and “About a Boy” allowed him to expand his production goals even further.

While he notes that life on set is exciting, he readily admits that it is not for everyone. In order to be successful, you must have two things – “a strong work ethic and an agreeable attitude,” he said. With these two skills, Kerry believes you can achieve just about anything in the production world.

His work ethic, optimistic attitude and extensive production knowledge have provided him with a successful career in the industry for almost 20 years now. But to Kerry, there is still so much more to accomplish. He currently works as a production executive at Showtime and oversees the production work for a number of the network’s shows.

Working hours on set can be long, and the job isn’t always easy, but he believes that the benefits far outweigh any downsides to the job and that’s what keeps him going. The opportunity to build relationships and watch both actors and shows evolve bring Kerry some of his most memorable moments.

“I love it. To see the actors get the roles and develop over the seasons as individuals is so fascinating to me. It really makes it worthwhile when you get to witness that growth and be a part of those moments,” Kerry said.

In addition to watching the actors grow and evolve in their roles, Kerry says he is equally as moved by watching how shows he helps produce make a difference in the lives of viewers.

“I still get choked up talking about it sometimes,” he said. “I really enjoy being a part of something that brings so much happiness to people. It gives people a break and this sense of happiness and lets them forget what is going on in their life and escape.”

Sometimes it’s still hard for Kerry to believe that all of these experiences and memorable moments came to be because of one leap of faith.

After taking a chance and living out his dream, Kerry encourages other to do the same. Whether it’s moving across the country or pursuing a career in production or any other industry, you just have to remember that “life is too short,” and you have to go for it. Evolving from a young boy watching the classics in front of the screen to a successful production executive behind the screen was something he believed at times would always be a dream – but now it’s his reality.

C&IS Co-Hosts Intercultural Communication Conference

Dr. Margaret D’Silva, C&IS professor and chair of the Department of Communication Studies 

The College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) recently co-hosted the International Conference of the International Association for Intercultural Communication Studies (IAICS). The virtual conference took place on March 11 and 12 in Manipal, India and was jointly organized with the Manipal Academy of Higher Education.

Dr. Margaret D’Silva, C&IS professor and chair of the Department of Communication Studies, is the 2019-2021 president of IAICS and a member of the organizing committee for this year’s conference. She has participated in IAICS conferences since 1999 and has co-organized three previous conferences in 2008, 2009 and 2011.

The theme of the conference this year was “Multiculturalism and Diversity in Contemporary Times.” Dr. D’Silva values C&IS’ participation in the conference and believes it is beneficial in showcasing The University of Alabama’s commitment to multicultural communication.

“Organizing such conferences makes our University and its appreciation for culture and communication visible to an international audience,” Dr. D’Silva said.

The conference included a presidential address from Dr. D’Silva and a welcome from C&IS Dean Dr. Mark Nelson, along with various communication scholars around the world.

“We are pleased that our colleague Dr. Margaret D’Silva is serving as a co-organizer of this year’s conference,” Nelson said during his opening address. “We wish [participants] the very best as they join together with colleagues from around the world to discuss common research interests that will advance our understanding of the field of intercultural communication.”

The IAICS conference features participants from 32 countries who are dedicated to doing research focused on communication across cultures. The scholars meet annually at different locations around the world to discuss common research interests.

Learn more about the virtual IAICS conference and view the program for this year’s event here.



APR Senior Named Outstanding Student by PRWeek

C&IS Senior and Public Relations Major, Kathleen McManus

Kathleen McManus, a senior majoring in public relations, has been named the 2021 Outstanding Student by PRWeek. The honor recognizes an undergraduate student for their outstanding display of a variety of public relations skills.

McManus is the third student from the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) to be awarded this honor over the past four years.

“I’m very honored to have been selected for the award,” McManus said. “It is an incredible way to round out my time here at the Capstone, and a true reflection of the exceptional education and experiences that the college and university provide its students.”

This year’s competition required students to create a comprehensive campaign to launch a new sneaker during Fashion Week. McManus’ campaign, entitled #EveryShoeEveryStyle, centered around launching a recyclable sneaker via a virtual Fashion Show. The campaign featured a variety of tactics including the use of influencers and strategic partnerships with retail brands.

“Because fashion week looks different in the virtual environment and consumer shopping habits have changed in the past year, I dedicated a significant amount of time to research,” said McManus. “This sparked ideas for how a brand could utilize the digital space to its advantage and what kind of shoe consumers would be seeking to purchase in this season. A key part of my campaign was identifying the insights in my research and using that to guide the strategies and tactics that would connect consumers.”

McManus credits much of her success to the guidance she received from faculty within the Department of Advertising and Public Relations (APR) as she prepared her campaign.

“I was fortunate to have the support of many mentors and faculty members when putting together the campaign,” McManus said. “From brainstorming initial ideas to final read-throughs, it was a true testament to the supportive mentorship fostered in the College.”

Additionally, the APR program was named a top-five finalist for Outstanding Education Program during the PRWeek Awards—the tenth time the program has been awarded this honor. The four other finalists for this year’s award included DePaul University, Morgan State University, NYU School of Professional Studies and the University of Florida.

The judging criteria for Outstanding Education Program submissions consider each program’s faculty contributions to PR in teaching, research and service to the industry, and the program’s initiatives in connecting current and former students to the PR industry in three areas: job and internship placements, speakers and events, and consulting and experiential learning.

“The APR program’s tenure as a top-five program is representative of the dedication and hard work displayed by all members of the department,” said Dr. Mark Nelson, dean of C&IS. “Our faculty and staff work diligently to develop an enriching curriculum and educational opportunities for our students and those efforts continue to set our academic program apart.”

Entries for the PRWeek Awards are reviewed and decided upon by a panel of judges comprised of PR professionals and PR educators from agency, corporate, government and nonprofit sectors.

Learn more about the annual PRWeek Awards here.

‘Revise and Resubmit’ Podcast Talks C&IS Research

Dr. Anneliese Bolland (left) and Dr. Kim Bissell record an episode of Revise and Resubmit

It used to be that faculty members in the College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) could routinely walk to their departmental mailboxes and find a printed bulletin, titled the “ICIR Scholar Spotlight,” a regular publication put out by the Institute for Communication and Information Research (ICIR). The publication featured a different C&IS faculty member discussing their research each month.

In Fall 2020, Drs. Kim Bissell and Anneliese Bolland brought the Scholar Spotlight into the 21st century by releasing their podcast, Revise and Resubmit. Each episode is a conversation with a C&IS faculty researcher about their research interests, ongoing projects and how their field of study relates to everyday people.

“At the end of the day, we want to know about their research and make it accessible for everyone. Even if we’re talking about something really technical, we break it down so that anyone can understand it,” said Bissell. “The coolest thing about the research in our College is all of the practical implications. Of course, we contribute to the research culture methodologically and theoretically, but what we’re focusing on is how we contribute to the betterment of society, even if it’s in a small niche area.”

Not only is the podcast informative, it’s entertaining; there really is something for everyone to enjoy. Episode titles include “George Bush Did Not Kill Harambe, The Internet is Just Weird and Other Conversations about Social Media” and “When Dolly Parton Steps in During Times of Crisis and Other Conversations about Crisis Communication.”

One additional hope for Bissell is that listeners across campus and beyond would hear the exciting research that C&IS faculty are a part of and see the numerous and varied opportunities for creativity and collaboration.

“Researchers across campus who tune in and listen will hear how interdisciplinary our work is,” said Bissell. “There is obvious potential for partnerships campus wide where our research can connect to every single academic unit on campus. We’ve identified and developed a lot of those opportunities, but not all of them. I think there’s more we can do.”

Season 1 launched in Fall 2020 and includes 13 episodes. Now well into the second season Revise and Resubmit can be found on Apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. During the season, new episodes release every Monday at 11 a.m.

The College of Communication and Information Sciences’ faculty and students at The University of Alabama conduct cutting-edge research that creates knowledge and provides solutions to global issues across the full communication and information spectrum. To learn more about research at C&IS, visit

C&IS Common Read: Soul Food by Adrian Miller

C&IS is hosting a common read of the book Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time by Adrian Miller. The common read will kick off the week of March 15 and conclude on April 12.

Miller describes his book as a love letter to African American cooks, and his hope is that after reading his book, anyone will be able to prepare a soul food meal and understand its cultural context. In each chapter, he seeks to answer the following questions: What is the food item? How did it get on the soul food plate? What does the food item mean for African American Culture?

C&IS plans to read Soul Food during March and April before joining Miller for a Zoom call on April 12. Ideally, group read participants will join the call from their dining room tables, where they will be eating a meal they prepared themselves from the book.

The common read project is part of C&IS diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. The idea was proposed by C&IS instructor, Jay Waters (Advertising and Public Relations) to present a topic and a book that would provide the maximum opportunity for engagement, conversation and reflection.

“Food and foodways is an underappreciated pathway to understanding history, culture and conflict,” said Waters. “It can be an eye-opening experience to hear that the foods you eat – something you don’t think much about – tells a story that illuminates literally centuries of human experience, while challenging your own view of the world.”

This project is funded by the College of Communication and Information Sciences to enhance its strategic priority to provide a learning environment that promotes diversity, equity, leadership and service.

If you are interested in reading along with C&IS, you can learn more by clicking here. If you are part of the C&IS family and would like to request a free copy of the book, click here.

About Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time:

In this insightful and eclectic history, Adrian Miller delves into the influences, ingredients, and innovations that make up the soul food tradition. Focusing each chapter on the culinary and social history of one dish–such as fried chicken, chitlins, yams, greens, and “red drinks”–Miller uncovers how it got on the soul food plate and what it means for African American culture and identity.

About the Author:

Adrian Miller is a writer, attorney, and certified barbecue judge who lives in Denver, CO. He served as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton, a senior policy analyst for Colorado Governor Bill Ritter Jr., and a Southern Foodways Alliance board member.

In the University of Alabama’s College of Communication and Information Sciences, diversity is celebrated, appreciated and embraced. As outlined in the College’s Diversity Plan, C&IS encourages the exploration and appreciation of diversity in everything from College-wide communication to the classes in our curriculum and student organizations designed to build leadership skills in the area of diversity. To learn more about diversity, equity and inclusion at C&IS visit